“A Game-Changer!” Industry Leaders Thrilled with PM Modi’s ₹20 Lakh-Crore Package

Coronavirus

“A Game-Changer!” Industry Leaders Thrilled with PM Modi’s ₹20 Lakh-Crore Package

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a nationwide address, speaking for over 35 minutes on the steps being taken to revive India’s economy in the wake of the slowdown caused by the outbreak of the new coronavirus in the country. The key takeaway from Modi’s speech was the announcement of a package of ₹20 lakh crore, intended for labourers, farmers, cottage industries, MSMEs, and other industries. Even as the details of the stimulus are waited – Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will address the media at 4 pm today – the announcement is a headline-grabbing one. The special package, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of India’s GDP, has evoked strong responses both supporting the government’s move as well as questioning it.

Industrialist Anand Mahindra was one of those hailing the ₹20 lakh-crore package as a bold step, even suggesting that it might be as significant for the Indian economy as the liberalisation measures taken in 1991.

A similar stance was adopted by Mahindra’s fellow industrialist, Gautam Adani, who viewed it as a transformative step.

Sajjan Jindal, chairman of JSW group, said it’s a bold move and looks fantastic.

While Modi shared the scope of the stimulus package, he did not go into the specific details during his speech. Instead, he left that to his Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is expected to share the finer points on the working of the stimulus today. This caused some to reserve their optimism over the announcement, with a former finance minister being among them. “The PM gave us a headline,” said P Chidambaram.

Sitharaman, for her part, also followed up on Modi’s speech by repeating the talking point that the ₹20-lakh crore package would work out to 10 per cent of India’s GDP. But the zeroes in the huge figure can be baffling. It left even the FinMin confused.

That minor hiccup aside, the government’s decision to trumpet the total amount of ₹ 20 lakh crore without providing insight into how it will be used has prompted some to question the transparency behind it. The Congress national spokesperson Gourav Vallabh put out a video calling it out for this very reason, and terming it as an exercise in headline management.

Others who were critical of the step began using the hashtag #OneMoreJumla, comparing the announcement to the Modi government’s promise to eradicate black money in India through demonetisation.

And there were others who were reminded of the ₹15 lakh that the PM had promised along with acche din right after demonetisation.

But the response of industry leaders has been largely positive, some calling it a “game changer”.

Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi found the message of self-reliance embedded in the message to be encouraging.

Journalist Vikram Chandra pointed out that implementation of certain features of the plan, like visionary reforms and credit for MSMEs, were crucial to ensure its success.

As with any measure announced by Modi, this stimulus package quickly became the most talked-about topic in the country. And with any such topic, a wide range of views and healthy level of dissent is to be expected.

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